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The Lincoln AssassinationCrime and Punishment, Myth and Memory A Lincoln Forum Book$
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Harold Holzer, Craig L. Symonds, and Frank J. Williams

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823232260

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823232260.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 31 July 2021

“Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land”

“Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land”

The Military Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators

(p.175) Chapter 7 “Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land”
The Lincoln Assassination

Edward Steers Jr.

Fordham University Press

This chapter offers a stout defense of the military tribunal that convened under the supervision of General David Hunter and was prosecuted by Judge Advocate General Holt. In 1865, the District of Columbia, scene of the trial, remained under martial law. It is argued that the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was clearly constitutional under the prevailing war conditions, and that it met the standard outlined in Article I, section 9, clause 2 of the Constitution, which states that the writ may be suspended as the “public safety may require it.” The chapter offers a valuable reminder that the Lincoln assassination prosecution focused not only on obtaining a conviction of the conspirators but also on linking Booth's small gang of hangers-on and ne'er-do-wells to the Confederate government. To Hunter and Holt, it is sometimes forgotten, it was President Jefferson Davis, as much as the conspirators themselves, who deserved to stand trial.

Keywords:   Abraham Lincoln, assassination trial, military tribunal, General David Hunter, Judge Advocate General Holt, Booth

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